Cyberethics: Social & Moral Issues in the Computer Age

Cyberethics: Social & Moral Issues in the Computer Age

Cyberethics: Social & Moral Issues in the Computer Age

Cyberethics: Social & Moral Issues in the Computer Age


The penetration of computer technology in society has given rise to new moral dilemmas. The 26 ground-breaking essays in this insightful anthology define the nature of this new moral landscape and offer thoughtful answers to the ethical questions raised by the interaction of people and computers.


John enters an Internet chat room and introduces himself to Sue. Their relationship develops over time and includes intimate conversations. In fact, Sue is really Bill, who has assumed a female persona for purposes of interacting with others at the Web site. Is Bill's behavior morally acceptable?

The Baxter Corporation designs a computer program that has consequences no one had envisioned, some of which are quite unfortunate. To what extent is the corporation morally culpable or legally liable?

The president of a university has an assistant whose major responsibility is to randomly read the e-mails of the faculty and to monitor the hard drives on faculty computers to determine which Internet sites they have been accessing. The assistant periodically files summaries of her findings with the president. Is this inspection morally defensible?

Newsweek magazine, in a special report entitled "The Dawn of e-Life," explored the impact of Internet developments on almost every aspect of our lives. We increasingly communicate professionally and personally by e-mail. We shop on the Internet (e-commerce). Politicians are involved in e-campaigning. We argue and fight and pursue sex on the Internet. We do much of our research on the World Wide Web. Some do all of their work at the computer, at home. We play games in virtual worlds. Education is increasingly wired. Some anticipate that physicians will soon practice medicine online. "The aggregate effect," says Newsweek, "is a different kind of life." With this new life come new moral and social issues.

Any new technology generates novel forms of human activity calling for evaluation, but not since the steam engines of the Industrial Revolution has a technology appeared that has the potential to dramatically reshape the human community and the moral landscape. This new technology . . .

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